In recognition of National Cybersecurity Awareness Month 2017, University of Phoenix® College of Information Systems & Technology commissioned its third annual national cybersecurity survey measuring Americans’ perceptions of personal, national and workplace cybersecurity. The survey of 2,012 U.S. adults sought to learn what precautions, if any, they take to protect their personal data online.

Meanwhile, the Bureau of Labor Statistics expects cybersecurity spending to grow nearly three times the national average in 10 years, highlighting the need for trained cybersecurity professionals[1] to keep pace with the growing number of cyber threats and technological advancements.


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Nearly half (43 percent) of U.S. adults have experienced a personal data breach in the past three years. This correlates with the roughly half of respondents who feel less secure from personal cyberattacks and national cybersecurity than they did five years ago.


Even as the need for trained cybersecurity professionals grows, almost no respondents currently work in the in the field and less than one in five (18 percent) are interested in pursuing a career in cybersecurity.

The top barriers cited in preventing Americans from pursuing an education or career in cybersecurity are: lack of time, concern over cost, and a lack of knowledge. Notably, nine in 10 feel they would need more education for a job in cybersecurity.

In the workplace, while nearly 20 percent say their business or employer has been the victim of a cybersecurity attack or breach, the majority believe their employer is prepared for a cybersecurity attack.


The financial[2] and healthcare[3] sectors are two of the most attacked industries by hackers, yet nearly seven in 10 respondents place trust in these same industries with their personal information ― but fewer than half trust the government (46 percent).


As a result of increased cyberattacks, 85 percent of respondents say they have adjusted their online habits.


Additional Findings


  • 26 percent of U.S. workers feel their workplace is less secure from cyberattacks than five years ago.
  • U.S. workers say their employers have at least one cybersecurity policy, including a fire-wall protected network (47 percent), suspicious email procedures (34 percent), and password protection/encrypting files shared over email (29 percent).



  • Nearly half (48 percent) place very little or no trust in the cybersecurity of smart and connected devices; only 9 percent place a lot of trust in them.
  • More than half (56 percent) agree that money transfers through social media applications are secure.
  • More than a quarter (26 percent) say their social media sites are public.


This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Poll on behalf of University of Phoenix between Aug. 24–Sept. 1, 2017 among 2,012 US adults, including 944 who say they have experienced a personal data breach in the past three years. Figures for age, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, please contact Cooper Nelson at